Rail Week Ending 05 January 2013: Terrible Start to 2013

January 11th, 2013
in econ_news, syndication

Econintersect: Week 01 of 2013 ending January 5 shows same week total rail traffic well below 2012 levels according to data released by the Association of American Railroads (AAR). In fact, the levels both last week and this week were lower than any week in the last two years.

  • The carload portion of rail traffic showed same week traffic contracted 12.1 % (versus last week's 13.8%).
  • Excluding coal and grain (which are not an economic indicator), rail carloads contracted at -4.5% (last week -6.0%) same week year-over-year.
  • Intermodal same week traffic contracted 8.0% (versus last week's -14.0%)
  • Total same week rail traffic contracted 12.1% (versus last week's -13.3%)

USA coal production is down 17.0 % same week year-over-year, and the cumulative effect on rail carloads continues to drag traffic down.

Follow up:

Four of the 20 carload commodity groups posted increases compared with the same week in 2012, with petroleum products, up 53.6 percent; coke, up 12.5 percent, and lumber and wood products, up 6 percent. The groups showing a decrease in weekly traffic included iron and steel scrap, down 29.3 percent; motor vehicles and equipment, down 20.6 percent, and coal, down 19.2 percent.

The majority of the reason for rail year-to-date contraction is coal and grain movements - which would only effect the profitability of railroads, and not an economic indicator as coal is an alternative fuel to oil and natural gas.


This Week
Carloads Intermodal Total
This week Year-over-Year -12.1% -8.0% -11.6%
This week without coal and grain
Year Cumulative to Date -12.1% -8.0% -11.6%


[click on graph below to enlarge]

Current Rail Chart

/images/z rail1.png


/images/z rail2.PNG

Total (cumulative) year-to-date traffic is contracting year-over-year.

From EIA.gov:

For the week ended January 05, 2013:

  • U.S. coal production totaled approximately 18.3 million short tons (mmst)
  • This production estimate is 10.9 percent higher than last week's estimate and 17.0 percent lower than the production estimate in the comparable week in 2012
  • Coal production east of the Mississippi River totaled 7.9 mmst
  • Coal production west of the Mississippi River totaled 10.4 mmst
  • U.S. year-to-date coal production totaled 13.5 mmst, 18.2 percent lower than the comparable year-to-date coal production in 2012
  • As of week ending December 15, third quarter 2012 production estimates have been revised to match actual third quarter 2012 Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) production. These revised values can be found under the "Revisons/Archives" section, and are also included in any year to date totals and 52 weeks ended totals in the "Current Weekly Estimates" and "Current Monthly Estimates" data tables. The "1st week in 2002- current week" and "January 2002- current month" original estimates spreadsheets are not revised.
  • Source: AAR

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